In spite of significant public concern, professional efforts and financial expenditure, there has been a perceived lack of progress in reducing the incidence of child abuse, and in improving the outcomes for children in both the short and longer term. In this article the authors reflect on recent policy developments in the United Kingdom relating to children and families experiencing multiple adversities, and argue that the current conceptualisation of child abuse is flawed. In adopting a rational technical approach to the management of child abuse, there is a tendency to focus on shorter term outcomes for the child, such as immediate safety, that primarily reflect the outputs of the child protection system. However, by viewing child abuse as a wicked problem, that is complex and less amenable to being solved, then child welfare professionals can be supported to focus on achieving longer term outcomes for children that are more likely to meet their needs. The authors argue for an earlier identification of and intervention with children who are experiencing multiple adversity, such as those living with parents misusing substances and exposed to intimate partner violence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science